Goska: Dallas drive sets Lambeau speed record
Although it did not come close to matching Usain Bolt’s best, the speed with which the Dallas Cowboys breezed to their second touchdown Sunday against the Green Bay Packers was impressive.
Bolt, of course, won gold in three events — including the 100-meter dash — in the Rio Olympics this summer. He’s considered the fastest human on the planet.
The Cowboys, known for their long, drawn-out drives, momentarily were transformed into the Pony Express. Their seven-point delivery just before halftime was the turning point in a 30-16 victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field.
Dallas needed but five plays to traverse 97 yards late in the second quarter. Its beeline to the end zone required all of 33 seconds.
When the dust settled, the Cowboys were up 17-6. The Packers never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.
Defensively, the second quarter has been a sieve for Green Bay. Still, there was little to suggest the Cowboys would let loose with such alacrity.
Dallas had moved the ball — 148 yards in 30 plays — but its average per play was less than 5 yards. In addition, rookie quarterback Dak Prescott had thrown three consecutive incompletions on the Cowboys’ previous possession.
With halftime a minute away and holding a full complement of timeouts, the Packers were looking to force a punt and get one more shot. After all, Dallas was backed up at its 3-yard line.
Datone Jones dropped Ezekiel Elliott after a gain of 3. Morgan Burnett and Jake Ryan held him to 5.
Green Bay called timeouts after both plays. Fifteen seconds had come off the game clock.
On third down, Lucky Whitehead went in motion. Prescott took the snap, turned and tucked the ball into the belly of the wide receiver who zipped 26 yards before being forced out of bounds by safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Forty seconds remained. The end zone was 62 yards distant.
Tight end Jason Witten, and receivers Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams lined up to the right. Williams headed up the sideline, got behind LaDarius Gunter (who slipped and fell) and caught a pass at the Packers’ 33 that he turned into a 42-yard gain before being pushed out of bounds by Micah Hyde.
Receiver Brice Butler then finished the drive. The Cowboys’ tallest receiver (6-3) extended his arms and hauled in a 20-yard pass from Prescott for the score.
The 33-second scoring strike — stretching nearly the length of the field — was the quickest of 90 or more yards by a Packers’ opponent in the stadium’s 60-year regular-season history.
Green Bay, to its credit, rarely permits drives of this length. When it does, it usually forces an opponent to expend more time to produce points.
The Cowboys became the 24th opponent to travel 90 or more yards to a score at Lambeau Field. They, and the Buccaneers of 1991, are the only teams to navigate that distance in less than a minute.
Tampa Bay staged a three-play, 93-yarder in a 15-13 loss on Sept. 15, 1991. The payoff of that 57-second drive was an 87-yard pass from Vinny Testaverde to Willie Drewrey that gave the Bucs a short-lived 13-5 lead.
Since the stadium opened in 1957, four other teams completed the journey in less than 2 minutes. The Vikings did so most recently, traveling 91 yards in 1:27 (three plays) with Adrian Peterson rumbling 82 yards for a touchdown in a 23-14 loss in 2012.
Only three opposing teams covered more distance than the 97 yards by the Cowboys. The 1979 Eagles and 2000 Bears drove 99 yards while the 1998 Vikings advanced 98.
That Dallas erupted in the second quarter was fitting. Green Bay has surrendered 645 yards in the period, the most in its first five games since the 1956 squad gave up 724, give or take a few yards.
With the long drive, the Cowboys swelled their offensive output to 145 yards in the quarter. They had balance with 68 yards rushing and 77 passing.
Dallas entered Sunday’s game known for ball control. It led the league with 16 drives of 10 or more plays.
The Cowboys managed only one 10-play advance against Green Bay. They used 12 plays to move 50 yards in the second quarter capped by Dan Bailey’s 44-yard field goal.
That possession (6:15) was also the only one by Dallas to last more than 5 minutes.
According to the drive finder at pro-football-reference.com, the drive by the Cowboys was the quickest this century of any involving five or more plays and 90 or more yards. The previous best: a six-play, 93-yard effort by the Colts that lasted 47 seconds in their 31-9 win over the Titans on Oct. 11, 2009.
Drives of 90 or more yards by Packers opponents that took the least amount of time off the game clock in Lambeau Field’s regular-season history.
Time Team Plys-Yds Date
0:33 Cowboys 5-97 Oct. 16, 2016
0:57 Buccaneers 3-93 Sept. 15, 1991
1:07 Rams 2-93 Nov. 16, 1958
1:21 Lions 4-95 Sept. 20, 1970
1:21 Saints 4-92 Sept. 30, 2012
1:27 Vikings 3-91 Dec. 2, 2012